A month-old Muslim child has been sold by his impoverished parents in western Uttar Pradesh’s riot-hit Muzaffarnagar district for Rs 50,000.
The infant traded hands twice between suspected child traffickers and had been lined up for sale for Rs 6.5 lakh, but was rescued in a dramatic sting operation by HT, a lawyer-activist and the Punjab Police on Friday night.
Suspected interstate child trafficking gang leader Usha, who goes by one name and is a midwife, bought the child for Rs 1.3 lakh from the original buyer, Madhu.
Usha was caught while sealing the Rs 6.5-lakh deal with a decoy customer, rights activist Harmeet Kaur Brar who was posing as a childless NRI on vacation, in Patiala. A taxi driver who brought Usha to the rendezvous point for making the sale was also arrested.
The infant was taken to Rajendra Medical College and Hospital. He is stated to be stable.
HT held back the report on police request to avoid alerting other accused. The police announced three more arrests in the case on Sunday.
Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Hardial Singh Mann identified the arrested trio as Madhu, Anandi and Shajhan, all residents of Uttarakhand capital Dehradun.
How the baby-seller was caught in Patiala
The police suspect all three are a part of the gang run by Usha.
“The infant was procured from a village in Muzaffarnagar. The police are yet to trace the parents. Madhu has named one Salma as the mother of the infant,” the SSP said.
The police are investigating the racket, which, they believe, could involve more people.
Usha is out on bail in a case of child trafficking. The SSP said Usha, who hails from Pawan Nagar in Amritsar, was arrested in 2011 for selling a child at Mullanpur Dakha in Ludhiana district.
The police have charged her with abduction and other offences.
While negotiating the deal, Usha had told Brar the infant was brought with the consent of his parents from Muzaffarnagar.